Bringing Back Coastal Wetlands in California
California’s coastal wetlands support a wealth of precious wildlife habitat and play a crucial role in improving coastal water quality and reducing the harmful effects of floods and erosion on surrounding communities. Today, more than 95% of Southern California’s wetlands have been lost due to human development – the largest loss of any region in the nation.
Rooted in years of scientific research and guided by community input, the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project would revive critical wetland habitat and offer a remarkable natural space for the public’s use and enjoyment. Restoring natural functions to the Reserve could heal this damaged landscape and create a thriving wildlife reserve and unique community asset, as has been accomplished with other wetland projects.
In 2003, the state of California acquired the Reserve from private landowners, ensuring the land would be protected for nature and people. The acquisition of the Reserve launched the planning for comprehensive restoration by the State of the newly-protected land, and the state sought out the advice of scores of experts to create a framework for its plan.
In 2004, the State installed a new tide gate that assists in flood control and improves water flow into the wetlands, allowing fish to make use of the wetlands and increasing tidal flushing. The State Coastal Conservancy also approved state bond funds to support the planning for bringing back natural wetlands functions at the nearly 600-acre Reserve.
In 2008, the State released a study that explored a range of feasible options for the Reserve that included public access and recreation features, including trails and overlooks, gateway entrances, interpretation stations, pedestrian bridges, bicycle parking, parking areas, boardwalks, vehicular pullouts and a visitor center.